In honor of Engineers Week, Aerospace is spotlighting a few of our many great engineers and getting a peek at the exciting projects that they’re focused on. Keep checking back to Meet Our People all this week!
Alma Mater: M.S. and Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering, University of Akron; B.A. in Physics, The College of Wooster
Department: Mechanical Systems/Vehicle Systems Division
Can you tell us about the work you do here at The Aerospace Corporation?
I'm following all the mechanisms on the launch vehicles, but my fun and daily joy is expanding the awareness of how hydrocodes can be used for more than just ordnance devices. A few of my projects consist of working with numerous groups to assess the validity of a flight termination system, fragmentation of a missile case and as well as lecturing folks about the physics of ordnance (high energetic) devices and proper methods to test them.
Who or what inspires you? Why?
My grandmother has always been my inspiration to push myself to the limits and to not give up/in when things get tough. She had a lot of hardships thrown at her, from being raised by an older sister to having to raise two teenagers after her eldest son and husband died within 3 years while working full time. She never let anyone doubt her and always treated everyone fairly and, of course, a big old smile. I love helping folks exceed their expectations. That's probably why I love management and volunteering at STEM events so much. Many folks limit what they can do by being scared, but if you put in hard work and don't give up when you get diverted, you'll be amazed at the results. Stop making excuses and just push, the end result is always better than the beginning.
When was the moment you realized that you wanted to make this your career?
The first time I read my Encyclopedia Britannica for kids about space and drew the solar system. I think I was about 6. Science was always a love, but math wasn't my best subject. Physics was hard and after I was told by a visiting professor I should change majors, I made it a point to make her regret ever saying that to me. My grad school advisor solidified it though. He showed me a world of math and science that didn't fit in one discipline and gave me the tools and confidence to continue to piece different disciplines together to achieve a full understanding of the physics behind a problem.
What work outside of your own department is Aerospace doing that excites you the most?
Actually starting to implement merging old (yet still quality) knowledge and tools with the new ways the aerospace industry is moving. Being more visible in the media, on campuses and conferences is broadening people's knowledge of Aerospace more than just the historic Lockheeds, Boeing and the exciting new SpaceX, instead of having to explain over and over again who we are and our critical and influential role in aerospace as a whole.
Why did you choose to work at Aerospace?
I wanted a place to grow, learn and not be pigeon-holed into only having one expertise. The culture and ability to make a difference not just for profit, but for the good of science. Many companies get lost in that and lose the ability to stay "agile" when things get tough.
What advice would you give to an engineer joining The Aerospace Corporation?
Ask questions, get involved and try new things. If you have a passion for something, no matter if it is in your defined job title or not, try to find a way to incorporate it into your job, either daily or weekly. That's what makes us unique from other aerospace companies; the ability to bring your job and passions together even if they are not defined in your current role at the company. Everyone has different skill sets and interests, and I find it the most rewarding feeling when someone realizes they can make coming to work enjoyable. We are picky with whom we hire, but we are a unique set of folks who have created a sense of community by wanting to help, push and enhance the aerospace, defense and science communities without the worry of finding your next position months before you complete your current program.
If you're interested in joining the Aerospace team, be sure to visit our careers page.